When you buy a property, one of the things Wynn at Law, LLC looks at closely is whether or not the property has easements. The most common easement is the right to travel over your land, like you'd give to the power company. This is known as a 'right of way.' Property owners commonly grant easements for the placement of utility poles, utility/cable/phone trenches, water lines, or sewer lines. If an easement is in place, the legal title to the property still remains in your name as the owner. The person or company granted the easement owns the right of way.
Seems pretty cut and dried. Everything is, until it isn't. With the amount of lake property, hunting land, and farmable acreage in Walworth county, there sometimes is access given to neighbors to have right of way to the water, woods, or fields. This isn't the same right of way you give WE Energies. This usually is considered 'permissive use' – best kept in writing with an attorney – or can be an actual easement. An actual easement by a neighbor over your property can devalue the property you're buying… and if you're a seller, it could scare off buyers who don't want neighbors on their land the same way you allow.
Easements are difficult to reverse, and you probably wouldn’t want to reverse it when you're talking about a utility company easement. We look at them to give you a little foresight just in case there is a conflict down the road. Permissive use, on the other hand, can be reversed. You can just revoke the permission, again, in writing.
Wynn at Law, LLC helps you walk that fine line between being neighborly and exposing your property and yourself to potential litigation. Easements do open the landowner up to some liability and some trespass you may not foresee. It's best to work with a neighbor on an airtight agreement on what you're granting, for which use, and when. Putting it in writing with signatures from all parties is the best way to protect your largest investment even when the situation for which you grant permission seems harmless at first. Verbal agreements do not stand up in court.
*The content and material in this original post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Photo by John Panella, used with permission.